by Mary Forney, LA Horse Racing Examiner
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures in this slideshow from yesterday’s Military Appreciation Day at Del Mar Racetrack certainly leave one speechless.
The Labor Day event, hosted by a group of benevolent horse owners and the racetrack, and organized by Annie Nelson of American Soldier Network, gave more than 100 combat veterans and combat wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a chance to forget for a little while the many hardships they have faced and those that still lie ahead.
The soldiers enjoyed an afternoon of racing, handicapping the horses with team competition, and visits to the saddling paddock, starting gate, and winner’s circle. When they gathered on the racetrack in mid-afternoon and faced the stands, they received a long and emotional round of applause from the on-track crowd.
A very special guest this year was Tibor (Ted) Rubin, Medal of Honor recipient and Korean War veteran. Rubin, who survived 14 months in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria as a child and was liberated by the U.S. Army, went on to serve in the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division and was a POW in North Korea for 30 months. He was twice wounded and received two purple heart awards.
Nelson, who worked with TVG’s broadcast department to help broaden the reach of those viewing the event, said: “There are so many veterans in attendance or watching the races on TVG that have never been thanked or appreciated. This touches them, too, because it’s like a brotherhood. It shows them Americans really care.”
Donations to this cause can be made here.